Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Fresh Look at Kawhi Leonard

I'm probably super late in posting this but a friend of mine pointed me towards a good look at what a number of rookies may look like in the NBA, or at least, what the rookie/sophomore game would look like if we are fortunate enough to get an All-Star Game this year.

This is a link to the Jimmer's All-Star game which was hosted in BYU. The two teams were comprised of various draftees, including several first and second round picks. One team was captained of course by BYU star Jimmer Freddette, the other by the Spurs' own first round pick, Kawhi Leonard. It was a good chance to see the skills that Leonard would bring to the table and I liked a lot of what I saw. Leonard finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, and no turnovers on 8-17 shooting for the night. Leonard's team also did come out with a very convincing victory.

Leonard definitely was a factor defensively, but what was very impressive was his offensive game. He showed a couple of pretty good dribble-drive moves, not afraid of drawing contact, having a smooth finish at the rim. Under pressure, Leonard does show a bit of a tendency to revert to his old, ugly jump-shooting form, and rush his shot, but I'm sure that's something Engelland can deal with.What I was particularly impressed with, was his ball-handling skills, which the commentators continually pointed out being something he worked on significantly in the last couple of seasons. The team often ran him as a point-forward, even with guards like Kemba Walker and Isaiah Thomas on the team. In particular, the commentators pointed out Leonard's ability to feed the post and see the different passing angles. While I don't expect him to take over much of that job from Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker, it certainly eases my concerns regarding a backup point guard.

The future looks bright to me. Seeing Leonard in action makes me hope that this lockout ends all the more.